Vicki: Paul and I are going to take on the topic How to Handle An Aggressive Child Toward a Parent with an acronym. The word is CHILL. Calm your own emotional response, model what that calmness looks like for them.
Paul: That's such a powerful learning tool. What you show them is huge.
Vicki: You know, it's so funny but a lot of times you have to just kind of think about your face. “Is my face calm? Okay, I'm going to calm.” Let down your shoulders, that sort of thing. So, get good at calming your own self. Maybe even taking a big breath letting it out.
Paul: You know I had Nicholeen Peck come and do a couple of episodes of Live On Purpose TV on YouTube. You can look those up in the playlist on our channel. I love the way Nicholeen puts this. Calm voice, calm face, calm body. Think of those 3, calm voice, calm face, calm body. And that is what you are going to model for your child. The worst thing that we can do is get all tipped over and upset when our child's being aggressive. Because that just kind of fuels the problem even more.
So, the next part of chill is the letter H. And this stands for handle the inappropriate behavior with appropriate consequences.
Vicki: So, we want to kind of match them. The behavior and the consequence.
Paul: Right. And it doesn't have to be… You know, you've heard a lot about natural and logical consequences. It doesn't have to be natural or logical as long as it's appropriate.
Vicki: Okay. So, not going way overboard or way under.
Paul: Right. I've heard it said before, “Don't use a chainsaw when you need a scalpel.” If you think of the difference there and how easy it is to go overboard. But some appropriate consequence for whatever the behavior was. And some of that is going to be determined by the child's development too.
Vicki: Right, right. You know, we have talked a lot about this before. When you've got a young child, physical restraint is often one of the most important things you can do. With a loving way of course. And also proximity. Small children want you to be in close proximity when you are trying to stop a behavior. Because otherwise, you just end up yelling at them.
Paul: One of the most popular consequences especially for young children is timeout. Timeout works because it isolates the child from the mainstream of family activity. That could be a very appropriate consequence to take them out of whatever the activity is that is going on and isolate them for a short period of time. It's a really effective consequence and that's why I think it's been so popular. Older children that might be a little more difficult. You got a 17-year-old, for example. You're going to put him in timeout. Right.
Vicki: Physically it is not going to happen.
Paul: He may be putting you in timeout. So, we are going to use a little different kind of consequence for the older kids. But you have a lot on the menu here that you can use. There can be restriction of privileges. There can be a withholding of certain services that you offer or access to certain things that they enjoy having access.
Vicki: We have talked a lot about this in videos on YouTube, so, go ahead and look it up on the parenting videos about consequences. But you are going to use your consequences that are appropriate for the misbehavior.
Paul: The I in chill has to do with instructing. Alright? Teaching. How are they going to know? Vicki: Right.
Paul: Unless we teach them. So, you will find yourself actually articulating things that you thought maybe they should have known to start with.
Vicki: And I'm going to put in a caveat here. It is really important to remember that instruction time is not in the heat of the moment.
Paul: Good point.
Vicki: You know, when your child is yelling at you, you are not going to start a conversation, “Now, son. We're going to have a little instruction.” It's not going to go over. But it's really important to come back to it later and say, “Okay, you know, let's talk about when this was happening here are some things you can do and you are going to give them the words. You are going to tell them what is appropriate, what is inappropriate.
Paul: Probably their ears aren't working when their mouth is.
Vicki: Well, you know, it's biologically, if your blood is going like crazy and you are having a high emotion, it is all out in your outer limbs.
Paul: We call it the fight-or-flight response.
Vicki: So, just wait until that calms down and then do some instructing.
Paul: Part of that instruction has to do with the appropriate expression of strong emotions. We have done other videos about this too, because it is such a common topic that comes up for us as parents.
Vicki: It is not wrong to have strong emotions. But we do need to find the right way to express them.
Paul: So, you might find in your instructions. You're saying things like, “Hey, when we feel angry, it's usually best to…” And then give them an alternative. It's usually best to use our words to express that.
Vicki: Or it's best to leave the situation and take a walk.
Paul: Give ourselves time to cool off. Or calm down. And you are not only instructing it but you are modeling that for them as well. Vicki, I said earlier, sometimes the ears don't work when the mouth does. And that's probably true of parents too. So, as we get to the first L in the word chill. I want that to be assigned to listening.
Paul: Listening and reflecting. Now, you have two ears and one mouth. Keep that in mind as you turn on your own listening power and you try to hear what your child is telling you. Sometimes you have to listen through the aggression. Or through the anger to get to the disappointment or the hurt or the sadness that they are feeling over something.
Vicki: Anger is almost always a secondary emotion. We need to listen with empathy to get down to the heart of what is really causing the turmoil inside them that that comes out and misbehavior towards you.
Paul: Right. And then the last L in the word chill I'm going to assign to limits.
Paul: Fair enough. It is not okay for your child to aggressively attack you. It is not okay for them. Now, it is not fun for you either as a parent, but it is not okay for them to be that aggressive toward their primary caregiver. That is just not a good thing. We want to set limits around that. And one of the most effective ones that I've found is simply to say, “I won't let you hurt me”, okay? How simple is that but it's powerful as well. I think you've used this before with kids. Vicki: I have. Our daughter-in-law is so good at doing this. She sets the limits and says, “No, I won't let you hurt me or your brother.” She says it very specifically, and there is no anger in it at the moment. It is just complete, “This is the limit.” It is really important to set that limit because it shows a couple of things. One, it shows that you have the right to set limits about safety for yourself you're modeling that. Because that… Sometimes the anger is coming out of fear or lack of control. Show them how to set those limits, model that for them
Paul: This is actually very securing to children as well. When they get overwhelmed with affect and emotion and then end up exploding, they feel out of control. To have a loving parent put an appropriate limit around that, “I won't let you hurt me,” it is almost like they hear that and they are like, “Oh, good.”
Vicki: Well, it brings comfort and some security to them.
Paul: Right. So, the acronym is CHILL, C for calm your own emotions. H for handling the misbehavior with appropriate consequences.
Vicki: I is instruct in the appropriate way to express your emotions.
Paul: L is for listen and show empathy.
Vicki: And the final L is to set limits.
Paul: Positive parenting starts with positivity. If you don't yet have a copy of my book, Pathological Positivity, we are going to you one for free. All you have to do it pay for shipping. Go to www.drpauljenkins.com to claim your book.